Proposed Catechism Revision — Resolution to Express Concern

Resolution from the Pastors of the Eldora Circuit of Iowa District East.


20161006_143222_resizedTo Express Serious Concern with the Catechism Revision


The following resolution was drafted for the purpose of discussion and dissemination among our fellow brothers in the Ministry. It is also intended to demonstrate to the Committee the gravity of our concerns about the contents of the Catechism Revision in its current form. There are numerous areas of concern that we have with the theological content and general direction of the Revision, particularly in the first two sections of the Revision on the Ten Commandments and the Apostles’ Creed. One of our chief concerns is the first article language that is woven into almost every part of the Catechism explanation, even when the subject matter does not call for it. Additionally, the Catechism explanation focuses almost exclusively on God as Creator rather than on God as Father. Also problematic, in our opinion, is the removal of any confrontation with sin in the Commandments, where the negative prohibitions of the Law are spoken of in a positive context. This essentially takes the teeth out of the Law and makes the Law seem attainable. Finally, language that is considered offensive to feminists is conspicuously avoided, for example, replacing “men” with “human creatures.” We do not find this to be helpful, nor do we approve of being politically correct at the expense of biblical faithfulness. With that in mind, we offer the following resolution:

WHEREAS, the Synod has undertaken a revision of the Small Catechism with Explanation and has invited feedback from the members of Synod, and

WHEREAS, condition for membership in the Synod requires “exclusive use of doctrinally pure agenda, hymnbooks, and catechisms in church and school” (Handbook 2013, p. 15), and

WHEREAS, this Catechism revision marks a radical departure from the questions and answers in previous versions of the Synod’s catechisms, and

WHEREAS, the Catechism revision omits the distinction between Law and Gospel in its explanation of Holy Scripture and mistakenly places our trust in the Bible in the fact that it has “led us to trust in Jesus as our Savior and Lord” (Q8, p. 12) rather than in its divine authorship and inerrancy, and

WHEREAS, the Catechism revision softens the force of the Law by (1) presenting the negative prohibitions of the Law in the context of keeping the law, and (2) omitting the traditional (and helpful) “God forbids…God requires” language that was present in previous versions of the Catechism, and

WHEREAS, many of the questions in the First Commandment focus on the human side of things (e.g. “We cherish,” “we take God seriously”) rather than simply stating what God requires and forbids of us, and

WHEREAS, the explanation of the sixth commandment lacks any helpful instruction on how to curb and avoid temptation to sexual sin, such as one finds in the 1912 Catechism: “That we quench the evil desires with God’s Word and prayer, industry and temperance, and that we flee and avoid all opportunity for unchasteness,” and

WHEREAS, the prominence of first article language throughout the sections on the Ten Commandments and the Creed (including the second and third articles) is not only unnecessary, but leads to a confusion of Law and Gospel, introduces a new and foreign way of speaking about humanity (e.g. “human creatures/nonhuman creatures”) and essentially supplants Redemption as the primary theological theme, and

WHEREAS, in the section on the Creed, the Fatherhood of God is barely mentioned (three bullet-points on p. 58) and God is identified more by his work (Creator) than by who He is ontologically (Father) (See especially Q96, p. 56, which mistakenly says that the Creed begins by confessing God as “Maker” rather than “Father”), and

WHEREAS, the focus on creation theology leads to an undue and even unbiblical focus on environmental issues (see, e.g. Questions 61-62), and

WHEREAS, the Catechism Revision omits question 23 from the 1991 Catechism, which is essential for our understanding of the Law, “Who is able to keep this and other commandments?” and

WHEREAS, in several instances, material that should be presented at the outset of a topic is made available as supplemental material. For example, the Doctrine of the Trinity is explained only in a “Supplement to the Creed” (p. 108) and Q24 “Who is the only true God” is left to the end of the First Commandment in “Connections and Applications,” and

WHEREAS, the Catechism Revision is pedagogically inferior to the previous version of the Catechism, expanding answers into long paragraphs that do not facilitate easy assimilation by a younger age group, be it therefore

RESOLVED, that the pastors of the Eldora Circuit of the Iowa District East express our serious concerns regarding the doctrinal purity of this Catechism Revision to the Revision Committee, and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the Committee be urged to exercise caution and restraint in revising the 1991 Catechism, taking a more conservative approach.


Respectfully submitted,

Rev. Paul L. Beisel
Rev. Dr. Matthew Rueger
Rev. Michael Kearney
Rev. Travis Berg
Rev. David Splett
Rev. Karl Bollhagen



Proposed Catechism Revision — Resolution to Express Concern — 8 Comments

  1. Also consider:

    At her recently concluded Pastoral Conference, the Wyoming District asked for more time. The LCMS Catechism Review Committee mailed the “Field Test” of the catechism this past July. Three years of hard work was shown to the church, and the church was asked to respond. The goal is to publish the catechism by the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses, next October 31. This is a pretty tight deadline. It means we need to keep the process moving – very quickly. And, in discussions with other pastors, that’s a problem…………………

  2. What about a key term which is missing in the book or at least is not given its due prominence–justification? The Litchfield circuit of the MNS went through it recently and also expressed grave concerns, some apparently expressed here, namely a loss of objective language.

  3. The catechism revision can wait till it’s done right.
    We don’t need to waste money on another “LW”!

  4. WHEREAS, the Catechism Revision is pedagogically inferior to the previous version of the Catechism, expanding answers into long paragraphs that do not facilitate easy assimilation by a younger age group,

    Lord, help us ever to retain
    The Catechism’s doctrine plain
    As Luther taught the word of truth
    In simple style to tender youth.

  5. Agreed. This is the kind of crap we get into when we revise explanations and try to make them usable by the Church. The Revision is happening anyway, by resolution of the Convention, so I say just ignore it and use the old ones. I also believe that it doesn’t show great trust of our pastors to “spoon feed” them the “correct” answers and deeper thoughts about the Small Catechism, when we already have the Large Catechism.

    All of this money and time can be spent in better ways and would you brethren help me tell the powers that be? Maybe then the Floor Committee for Really Expensive and SIlly Projects will finally listen, and divert the money elsewhere, like say to struggling pastors AND teachers on candidate status or between calls. Shouldn’t we consider that a top priority?

  6. The proper distinction between Law and Gospel is critical throughout our instruction. To water it down now is not encouraged. I also agree that we should inform about what God commands, rather than write about how we feel.

  7. I asked that my congregation be involved in the field test way over a year ago. In June of 2015 the Executive Director wrote to me “We will continue to provide future opportunities for field testing as sections of the revised catechism are prepared by the drafting committee and reviewed by the CTCR. So, the best way for your congregation to be involved in simple to watch for new field testing opportunities/surveys―and respond! You can help with that by watching for e-mails sent to all church workers encouraging anyone who is interested to respond to these surveys.”

    Later, I didn’t find out until a month after they were sent out to the congregations this year (late July 2016) that we had received a field test copy. Our pastor and office secretary didn’t even notify anyone that we received one.

    The October 2016 deadline didn’t give anyone enough time to try it out.

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